Booting from USB drives

Franklin Johnston fpjohnston at
Wed May 15 05:29:13 PDT 2013

On Tue, May 14, 2013 at 3:39 PM, Tony Su <tonysu at> wrote:

> I can't add anything to Gus' post which looks detailed and covers all the
> bases I can think of.

I agree, but I already figured out that I was doing the right things to
partition and format the drive, and install and boot Linux. I'm still left
puzzled as to why this works for my 32 GB drive, but not my 16 GB drive.

> Re: your original post about Windows "can't partition" and "can only see
> one partition" - both would be false.

> Windows not only has its own internal disk utilities which can partition,
> there is a MS parted utility.
> The Windows boot partition (MS reverses the boot and system partition
> names) as defined by everyone but MS can be any marked partition supported
> by your BIOS and can point to any disk or partition containing your OS
> files. The method used to describe the partitions are different than Linux
> though so maybe that is why someone didn't know how to describe any but the
> first partition on the first disk which of course is always default.

The MS Disk Management utility did not want to allow more than one
partition on a USB drive. I will concede that GNU utilities such as
*parted*might remedy this deficiency. But that's not the biggest

Windows 7 only saw one of two partitions on a drive that I had formatted
with *gparted* on Ubuntu. This corresponded to information I found on
multiple sites, which stated that Windows only allows one partition for a
removable device. Some of them suggested using a utility to flip the
Removable Media Bit on the device to make it appear to Windows to be a
fixed drive. I haven't yet seen anything that describes how else to get
Windows to mount more than one partition and assume it a drive letter.

What was worse, Windows got confused. The first and larger partition was
formatted as NTFS, and the second as FAT32. Windows saw only the larger
partition, but said it was formatted as FAT32.

Regardless, this is a digression from the real question, which is, why
would a given USB drive not be bootable? Regardless what Windows is or is
not capable of, I am able to demonstrate with Linux that I can install and
make bootable at least some drives.

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